There have been so many fantasy novels that have been coming out recently that I’m struggling to decide where to start! I’ve seen so many Instagram posts about this book, and it has such a beautiful cover that I had to select this one! Here is my review:
Summary (Goodreads): When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?
Review: This was an interesting book, but definitely more on the generic side of this genre.
What I loved the most about this book was the world-building. The descriptions of the setting was gorgeous and I loved that the author took the time to develop an interesting talent system. I wish there had been more emphasis on Maevan culture, as I was curious to juxtapose Maevana with Valenia; the differences that were mentioned sounded more like personality traits rather than actual cultural variations. I wanted to learn more about magic in Maevana, especially since that is kind of what makes a fantasy story, well, fantasy!
I didn’t love Brienna’s character too much because she didn’t really have much of a personality. On the plus side, she wasn’t stupid; she could put together clues and formulate plans. But I can’t really say if there was anything more to her.
I really liked the first half of the story, when Brienna was in school with her friends and trying to get scouted for her talent. It was the only semi-unique thing about the story. However, the rest of the novel was a bit … boring. Nothing really happens for the longest time. She just travels, and then waits around to meet other people, and then continues to do ordinary-ish stuff until it’s time for the real action to take place. At least if there had been more instances of magic or understanding of the Maevan culture, I wouldn’t have been as bored. But there wasn’t.
The ending of this novel was really simplistic. Everything was over and resolved far too quickly for me to be satisfied. It was just blah for me, which was disappointing since it was the scene I was most excited to read. It just didn’t work.
Lastly, I didn’t like the romance in this book. This is a personal pet peeve I have: I don’t like relationships between students and teachers. It feels weird and wrong to me, and I just can’t find it within myself to think of it as sweet or cute. Maybe others won’t be as bothered, but I certainly was!
Overall, this was an okay novel. It had some beautiful descriptions, but the story was generic, the characters didn’t have as much personality as I would have liked, and the ending was just too easy. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.